There are many benefits to having a doula assist you and your partner through your labour and birth. Without going into all the scientific studies below you can find the top reasons from a more emotional standpoint.
1. Mothers who have a doula often feel more secure and cared for.
The prenatal and labour stages can be a very emotional and stressful time for many mothers. A good doula will be able to anticipate some of your needs as well as be familiar with many of the common insecurities that go hand in hand with being pregnant. While it is very beneficial to have the support of a loving spouse, expecting them to be your sole support person is like asking them to coach a baseball game without knowing the rules or having ever played the game. The type of emotional support that a doula (especially a doula who is a mother) can provide is immeasurable.
In order to benefit from this unique support it is important to make sure that you and your doula have a great “fit”. When there is a strong emotional connection, you will be able to more easily share your feelings and experiences. Your doula will be more effective in meeting your needs and using her experience to help you feel good about the birthing process.
2. Mothers often have more self-confidence when they have a doula to support them.
Many women who are expecting a baby, especially if it is their first, experience self-doubt, worry about the labour process and anxiety about adapting to having a new baby at home. Quite often a lack of self-confidence is directly related to lack of knowledge and experience. While most people know that a doula’s job is to support you emotionally and physically, it is also their job to share knowledge, impart their experience and support you and your spouse in the decisions that you make. When you are informed and knowledgeable, you are able to make confident decisions and feel good about your choices.
3. Having a doula often results in a shorter labour and fewer complications.
While this has been statistically proven, what matters more is why those results are achieved. On average, women seem to experience a shorter labour and have fewer complications for two reasons. First, part of a doulas job is to educate you in an impartial way. Providing you with the studies and statistics related to different procedures, medications and interventions. The knowledge you gain allows you to make educated decisions that are right for you, not your caregiver. Second, a doula is hired by you and is for you. A doula is on “your team” and is knowledgeable with the birth plan which she supported you in creating. It is very easy during labour to fall victim to tunnel vision and lose track of your overall birth plan. A doula is there to honour your wishes and your goals so you can stay true to yourself.
4. Doulas can provide breastfeeding support when it is most needed.
Breastfeeding is often the challenging during the first few days after the birth of your baby. If a mother is going to give up on breastfeeding, this is usually when it happens. Following labour, new mothers are usually physically and mentally exhausted. The challenge of getting a good latch and dealing with a frustrated baby who is also having to learn to breastfeed can easily become overwhelming. Unfortunately the conflicting advice received from many nurses can become overwhelming and frustrating in the first few days. Most doulas have also taken updated breastfeeding training and the support they can provide during this stage can make the process go much smoother. The easier the first few days of breastfeeding are, the more likely you are to continue.
5. Mothers often have fewer negative feelings about their birthing experience.
With so much time to think about labour before it actually begins, it is easy for mothers to develop pre-conceived notions about how the birth process will or should go. Babies are rarely cooperative when it comes to timing or sticking to the birth plan you created.
A doula has an understanding of the many uncertainties and can help a couple work through the birth planning process using realistic goals as well as create a back-up plan. If, as can be expected, the birthing process does not go 100% according to plan, your doula is on hand throughout the labour and birth to answer any questions as they arise and provide continuous support for both you and your partner.
During the postpartum period, a doula can help to keep your memories in perspective and make sure you are focusing on all the positive aspects of your birth.
6. Doulas often provide families with the ability to adapt more easily to having a new baby at home.
The experience of bringing a new baby home is both exciting and overwhelming. There are many new routines to learn and for the near future, life as you knew it no longer exists. A doula is able to draw not only on her personal experience if she is a mother and parent, but also the experience she has acquired through assisting other families.
Understanding little things like how to establish a routine, breastfeeding, what to expect after the first week at home and when to implement a sleep plan all go a long way towards making a challenging process easier.
7. The results speak for themselves ..
Did you know by just having a doula present at your birth there is:
- 50% reduction in Cesarean delivery
- 25% decrease in the length of labour for first time mothers
- 60% decrease in requests for an epidural
- 40% decrease in the use of artificial oxytocin
- 30% decrease in the use of forceps
- a decrease in the use of pain relief medications (narcotics)
I personally encourage all my HypnoBirthing couples to strongly consider having a Doula, especially for a first baby. I had one for my birth, and she was a fabulous source of wisdom and support and I can’t imagine not having a doula when birthing … ever, and nor can my husband!